Top Three Things to See and Do
San José is the hotbed of technology in the U.S., so what better way to get in touch with your inner creative genius than a visit to The Tech Museum of Innovation? Popular with tourists, it’s a must-see if you’re interested in a cutting-edge experience. Adult admission is $20, and students and seniors receive a discount.
The creepy Winchester Mystery House will leave an unforgettable impression on you. Preserved to showcase the odd eccentricities of Sarah Winchester, the Winchester rifle company heiress, the museum offers mansion tours that reveal the hauntingly bizarre architectural choices of a woman obsessed with the spirit world. Special value tickets can be bought for as little as $27.
Santana Row is the clear choice for the shopping enthusiasts in your group. You’ll find top name brands including Anthropologie, Vera Bradley, and Gucci.
Eating and Drinking
It’s a hotly debated topic and an experiment worthy of significant self-reflection — where can one get the best Mexican food in San José? Pull up a chair and debate the layers of flavor in the homemade tortillas and lovingly crafted, fresh guacamole at Zona Rosa, a family owned Hacienda-style restaurant that locals rave over. Prices are moderate, ranging from $11-$17 per entrée.
Beer connoisseurs will appreciate the well-provisioned San Pedro Square Market. With hundreds of craft beers to choose from, featuring seasonal and local brews, this hipster oasis is the place to be if you’re looking to enjoy some laid back California ambiance. Live music provides the backdrop to a totally chill evening, and if you’re looking to catch the game, you’ll score big. Plenty of TVs are positioned throughout, so you won’t miss a moment of your favorite sports team action.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Enjoy side-splitting laughs and jokes aplenty at the iconic San Jose Improv. Harry Houdini performed here, amongst a slew of hilarious legendary comics. Shows are nightly and guests can enjoy a delicious dinner and fancy signature cocktails.
Karaoke lovers will enjoy 7 Bamboo, a well-positioned nightclub in the trendy enclave of Japantown. Nightly DJs are standard, along with a karaoke catalog that will make you swoon. Reservations are strongly suggested, as the club is very popular, especially with younger crowds.
For a more refined experience, 55 South caters to the sophisticates in your group. Bartenders here treat mixology as a carefully honed skill and execute drinks to the highest standard. Go here if you’re looking for a truly elevated experience.
San José is well connected, with a variety of transportation options. Walking is a suitable option and the city fares well with a walk score ranking of 20th most-walkable large city in the U.S. Alternatively, car rentals are a breeze, with the most popular brands readily available throughout the city and at the airport.
San José offers several public transportation solutions for getting where you need to go, with the more popular options being the VTA Light Rail and Bus, Dash (Downtown Area Shuttle) Shuttle, Caltrain, and BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). A comprehensive list of all transit options can be found online, including traffic updates, parking information, and maps of the city.
One word can describe the climate in San José — comfortable. With a cozy average daytime temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll feel fine and dandy as you discover the city. Bring a sweater for evenings, as the temperatures can dip into the 50s. The good news is, you can leave your umbrella at home. Because of its inland position, San José gets less rain than the Bay Area.
When to Go
Traditional advice applies to visits to San José — consider traveling in the Spring or Fall, when you’ll find better deals on hotels, rental cars, and flights. The low seasons also offer a glimpse into local traditions such as the Spring Festival Silicon Valley and San Jose Harvest Festival. But if you can only schedule a trip in the summer, don’t fret. San José doesn’t experience quite the same influx of tourists as San Francisco, and visitors can enjoy chilled-out events like the San Jose Summer Jazz Fest, a mellow musical gathering of local and worldwide jazz artists.
Where to Fly to
You have three choices when flying into San José, depending on your preferences for convenience and price. Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights. If a timely arrival to downtown San José is of value, the clear option is booking your flight to arrive at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC). A mere 8-minute drive from the airport lands you in the center of San José. You have your choice of taxi service, car rental, public transportation, and app-based rideshares to handily whisk you off to your destination. Although flights are a bit more expensive at SJC, you’ll save time and have more time to explore.
Equally distant from San José at around 40 miles each, are San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Oakland International Airport (OAK). There are pros and cons to choosing one airport over the other, and you’ll want to weigh out the amenities that are most important to you. If the kiddos are in tow, consider OAK for their quick, family friendly TSA lines and Mamava Lactation Suites.
But if you’re looking to add an eclectic twist to your travels, consider using SFO and stop at The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the groovy Haight-Ashbury district, all on the way to San José. More international airline carriers use this hub, and this impressive airport is an experience on its own. A meditation room, kids’ spot, over 40 museum exhibits throughout, yoga room, and spa services await travelers, making having to spend time in the airport a stress-free experience.
Home to some of the largest innovation companies in the world, San José is a technological focal point but also delivers a lasting impression for vacationers who appreciate great food, exciting nightlife, and a cool California vibe.